Moving to the Darkside with...Dawn Wotapka

What lured you to the dark side?

There aren’t that many places to move up from The Wall Street Journal, so I decided it was time for a big change. I didn’t want a decade of learning about real estate to go to waste, so doing PR for a well-known firm seemed like the perfect fit. I also wanted a place where I could learn and sharpen my leadership skills. Frankly, I don’t see any darkness here!

What annoyed you most about PRs when you were a journalist?

People who weren’t accessible after 5 p.m.

How did your journo colleagues react when you told them you were moving into PR?

I received wonderful support from colleagues and friends. Many of the journalists I know from early in my career are heading into PR, so we’re making this change together.

What has been your biggest surprise about PR?

The collaborative environment. Journalism is pretty much a solo gig until you get to the editing stage. It’s nice to know that my new colleagues will freely share contacts and advice.

What lessons did you learn in journalism that are easily transferable to PR?

A desire for accuracy will translate into any field. I know the ingredients of a good story, what editors demand and the value a “real person” adds to a piece.

What do you miss most about being a journalist?

I’ll almost miss the deadline insanity, when the world seems to be crashing as demands come from ten people at once. I’ll definitely miss the thrill of seeing a finished story go live, but I’m eager to see the first piece that I helped with behind the scenes.

What advice would you give to other journalists considering the change?

If you’re interested, have coffee with a few PR people. They’ll give you the straight scoop and you can decide for yourself. Given the state of the industry, I’d suggest starting sooner rather than later. Also, there is life after journalism.

What is your top tip for PRs when dealing with hacks?

No journalists wants to be considered a hack! But good PR people should know his or her field and the client. Don’t lie to the reporter. Take calls after hours. Remember that both sides have a job to do. We can help each other shine.



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